"Gone"

1. 'Paper Flowers'

"Don't say I'm out of touch

With this rampant chaos – your reality.

I know well what lies beyond my sleeping refuge

The nightmare, I built my own world to escape."

Evanescence 'Imaginary'

The battle continued for a few more minutes. Cries of, "Spiking strike!" and "Vee Laser!" filled the air until finally the Airdramon fell back, licking their wounds.

"What do you think that was all about?" TK asked as he moved over to the rest of the group who were looking at their Digimon devolve and head back to them.

Kari shrugged, "I don't know. I thought there were no more controlled digimon."

"They weren't being controlled." Ken stated, his voice a soft whisper. He hung his head in shame, "Those Airdramon were attacking us for a reason."

"Why?" Davis asked, picking up Veemon and squinting at Ken.

Ken opened his mouth to speak but closed it again and shrugged.

"Well it's a good thing they gave up. I didn't want to destroy them." Cody added while looking at the horizon where three specs could be seen fleeing on the sky.

Yolei looked closely at Ken; he looked very pale and shocked, "Ken?" she inquired gently, "Are you all right?"

Abruptly, he turned to her and scowled deeply, then he turned to the rest of the group and glared at them too. He picked up Wormmon and shouted, "All of you should just leave me alone!" and stormed off into the digital forest.

Yolei frowned at his retreating form and then looked to the rest of the group, bewildered. They looked just as shocked as she did; though Davis had a look of deep thought upon his face, which she found both funny and very interesting. Deciding not to mock Davis for thinking so hard, she moved closer to him and asked quietly, "What are you thinking?"

Davis glanced at her and then back at where Ken had taken off.

"I'm not sure, but have you noticed how he has distanced himself from us lately. It's been what? A year since we defeated Malomyotismon, we should all be getting closer, not farther apart. Something's wrong, something's bothering him, but he won't tell me what it is."

TK turned to Davis and Yolei and looked as if he were going to ask something too, when they all paused at the sound of distant yelling. Their eyes grew wide and they took off in the direction of the desperate screams.

------

Ken found himself surrounded by the strangest digimon he had ever seen. They were small, and only came up to his calf. They were a swirling colour of blue and green and had what appeared to be shells on their backs, much like those of a tortoise. They walked on two legs and had arms with needle like extensions protruding at the wrist. They had little or no neck and large round heads with huge black eyes. From what Ken could see, they had no mouths, just those deep, black eyes.

He would have been astounded with the creatures because of the way they used numbers instead of size to corner their prey, but he was far too busy trying to fight them off.

His eyes darted everywhere for signs of Wormmon, but he had been flung to the side somewhere after yelling and then becoming deathly silent.

"Wormmon!" Ken yelled again, kicking aside one of the strange creatures. It growled and got up again, along with several others and began to bite at Ken's ankles and calves. Apparently they did have mouths with very sharp teeth.

He tired to kick them away again, but some, he noticed were holding his legs with surprising strength. He tried to bend down to throw them away from him, but he found his arms being pulled in opposite directions and then his neck was being pulled back sharply by his hair. He yelled out in surprise and pain as he fell to the earth and landed on his back. And then he saw one of them jam its needle extension into his lower arm and after a second or two, his world flashed white. He found himself strapped down on a hospital bed in a clinical white room with a large black man standing over him with a needle in his hand.

Ken blinked several times and turned his head to the side to see a single window with netting and bars covering it, but he could see clearly that the world outside was Odiba. He looked up at the doctor and asked, "Where am I?"

The doctor turned sharply to him as if he had not being expecting Ken to speak. The doctor blinked unbelievingly at him for a moment and then stuttered, "You're in t-the hospital K-Ken."

Then without saying anything more, the doctor rushed out the room, muttering to himself things like, "Parents will be so pleased. He's lucid!"

Ken frowned to himself and mumbled, "Lucid?" and again without warning, his vision flashed white and he found himself in the Digital world, spread eagle on the ground with the group of Digidestined looking down at him.

"Ken!" Yolei breathed, "Are you okay?"

"Thank God you're awake man, I thought those things might have done some serious damage." Davis gasped as he helped Ken sit up.

Ken glance around himself and immediately began panicking, "Wormmon? Where's Wormmon?"

"Relax Ken," Cody soothed as he walked closer to them, carrying a green bundle in his arms, "He's fine. He has a few scratches on him, but nothing serious."

"What happened?" Ken asked himself quietly.

"That's what we were going to ask you, Ken." Kari said.

"We heard you yelling," Davis began, "and then when we got here, these weird Digimon were all gathered around you and you were lying on the ground. What did they do to your legs?" he added after looking at the bloodstained trousers of Ken's gray uniform.

"They came out of nowhere and started to attack me." Ken said softly, "They bit me and scratched me, but one-" He cut himself off. How would it sound if he told his friends that not only were these digimon coming after him as a punishment for being the Emperor, but that one of them injected something into him that made him hallucinate that he was in a mental ward? He rubbed his arm subconsciously.

"One, what? Ken, one did what?" Yolei encouraged him.

He shook his head, "Nothing. It was nothing. I think I'm going to go home now, if that's okay with you guys."

The group glanced at each other and then nodded at Ken. Without saying anything more, he got up, bundled Wormmon in his arms and left through the nearest port.

He slowly set Wormmon down on the floor and padded over to his ladder leading up to his bed. He grabbed the cold metal bars and made to start climbing, but felt him self fall into a light trance.

"Ken?" Wormmon's soft voice called to him concerned. "Ken? Are you okay?"

Ken snapped out of his revere and looked down at Wormmon. Mechanically he moved to pick his partner up again and set him down on his bed, following up the ladder and flopped onto his stomach as he often did when he was feeling depressed.

"Ken? What's wrong?"

Ken lifted his head just a fraction off his pillow and looked at Wormmon's big blue eyes. "Do you know what kind of digimon those were, Wormmon?"

"I'm not sure Ken." He confessed, "I think they are very rare digimon. Did they hurt you?"

Ken nodded slightly and rolled up his sleeve. A deep bruise had developed over the spot where one of the digimon had injected whatever it was into his arm. He rubbed it subconsciously and then suddenly looked up sharply when he heard his mother's voice calling him.

"It must be dinner time." He mumbled and put his head down again. "I'm really not hungry Wormmon. Would you mind going and telling her to keep my dinner?"

Wormmon frowned with concern but did as his friend wished.

Ken waited for the door to click twice, once open and once closed before shutting his eyes and watching the white stars dance in front of his eyes. What had happened to him in the Digital world today? What was that flash of him in a mental ward? Of all the hallucinations that he could have had, why had it been in a nut house?

Tired of thinking and tired of trying to push away the gnawing angst in his gut, Ken felt his mind drift away with his body as he fell into a deep sleep.

------

"Ken sweetie. Are you awake? You'll be late for school if you don't get up. I made you breakfast, you must be starving from missing dinner last night."

Ken rolled onto his back and listened to his mother's ramblings as she tried to rouse him from his slumber. He squeezed his eyes shut and then slowly opened them mumbling; "I'm awake mama."

She nodded and left the room. He waited a few minutes before finally sitting up and climbing down the ladder of his bed. He made his way sleepily to the bathroom and turned on the taps of the shower. When the water was at the right temperature, he stepped in and closed the curtain. He stood under the jet of water, letting the warm vapors wash over him. He became suddenly aware of a horrible burning sensation in his lower legs and remembered that those digimon had bitten into his skin and scratched him around his ankles and calves. Fresh blood was now running in streaks down his legs and made a dull brown/red pool around the drain hole. He frowned and tried his best to ignore the pain. He leaned his forehead on the cool tiles in front of him as his mind began to swim with the thoughts of yesterday's events. Angry at his inability to push this from his mind, he pushed away from the wall and washed his hair as quickly as he could before getting out the shower and dressing his wounds with some bandages that he found in the bathroom cabinet. He pulled on his uniform and forced down his breakfast before saying goodbye to Wormmon and his parents.

At school, Ken was finding it incredibly difficult to stay focused during his teacher's lecture. He felt slightly nauseous and extremely tired. He abandoned the notes he was taking and let his vision go fuzzy. Suddenly, without being very aware of it, he realized that he was no longer in his classroom. He was sitting at a desk, with a book in front of him, but its pages were blank. Frowning, he looked around him and saw people in pajamas and gowns and other odd clothes, sitting at desks and one boy was at a piano. Ken got slowly to his feet and walked to the door. He looked down and saw that he too was wearing hospital pajamas. He stepped into the passageway and looked up and down it. He saw his parents at a counter, talking to a nurse on the other side. They were nodding and then Mrs. Ichijouji turned and saw Ken staring at her. She gasped and ran to him, hugging him.

"Mama?" Ken muttered, "Where am I?"

"Oh honey!" she sobbed, "You're here now, in the hospital. You're going to be alright."

"I don't understand." He looked around again, "How did I get here?"

"It's going to be okay sweetie. I promise. The doctor says you're responding to the medication."

"The what-?" It happened in a flash again, Ken blinked and found him self, sitting at his desk in his classroom, his teacher still droning on. His mouth had suddenly gone very dry and his stomach turned over. He needed to get out of here; he needed to be anywhere but in this stuffy classroom.

He raised his hand and the teacher smiled at him, "Yes Mr. Ichijouji?"

"Sir," he said shakily, "I'm not feeling very well. May I go to the nurse's office?"

"Of course. I'll write you a note." His teacher proceeded to do so and handed him the slip. Ken took it, picked up his bag and walked slowly out the classroom. He had no intention of going to the nurse's office, but instead turned to the computer classroom and checked if it was empty. It was and so he proceeded to slip inside and open a digital port.

Once in the Digital world he realized that it was very foolish to be here without Wormmon, as digimon had been finding it their mission to punish him for his acts as the Emperor lately. Sighing, he sat down and sent a message to Davis's D-Terminal.

However just after he had sent it, he felt regretful. He had made it sound like an emergency in the message. How would it look if everyone of the Digidestined skipped class to meet their friend in the Digital World just because he had had a lapse in sanity?

He pulled his knees closer to his chest and folded his arms around his legs, waiting for them to get to the Digital world before he had another flash of the hospital.

------

Davis heard his D-Terminal beep in his bag as he towel dried his hair after showering. He had just finished a long period of PE class and dropped onto the bench to open his bag. TK heard the beeping too and leaned over his shoulder to read the message.

Davis

Sorry to bother you, but I think I'm in trouble. I'm in the Digital World right now and I need to talk to you.

Ken

"We better find the others and get there fast." TK stated, pulling a shirt over his head and grabbing his bag. Davis nodded, a tight knot now developing in the bottom of his stomach.

They found the girls and Cody heading to the cafeteria and stopped them. They showed them the message and they swiftly made their way to the computer room.

They called their digimon out of hiding and all went through the port to the Digital world.

They did not have to look long to find Ken.

"Ken!" Davis yelled and he looked up from his knees. The whole group was running to him and he felt extremely guilty for making them come. He wasn't even sure he could tell anyone what was happening to him. He wasn't even sure of what was happening to him. Other than the fact that he thought he was loosing his mind.

"Ken?" Yolei asked tentatively, "What's wrong?"

"Yeah?" Kari said quietly, "Your message had us worried."

"I'm sorry," Ken whispered, "I didn't mean to worry you guys."

"Ken?" Davis inquired, "What's up?"

Ken hesitated and then told them what had happened yesterday with the Digimon who had injected something into him and then he began having these hallucinations.

"That's not all." He confessed, "Some Digimon have been attacking us because I'm with you guys. They want to punish me for being – for being the Digimon Emperor."

"So that's why you've been trying to push us away." Cody said exasperated.

Ken nodded faintly and looked away from their stares. He knew what they were thinking, that he was loosing it. That he was mad and he wasn't so sure they were wrong.

"We should tell Izzy about this." Yolei decided, "Maybe he can figure out what that stuff was that they injected in you and Izzy or even Jo can find a cure or something."

Ken shrugged and stared purposefully at a bright yellow flower. Davis put a reassuring hand on his shoulder, "We'll figure this out Ken. We promise."

------

(AN)

Well that's the first chapter of "Gone". I got the idea for this story from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, 'Normal Again'. It was such a good idea that I couldn't resist writing a fanfiction based on that idea. Obviously it has been adjusted for many reasons, but that's where I got the inspiration.

As for Ken being punished, I got the idea from 'Meeting of the Misunderstood' by Kenandwormmonchicka. I just needed some reason for digimon to be fighting and for Ken to be cornered by them. Check out that fic by the way, because it's brilliant and one of my favorites.

This is a short story, with short chapters. There are only four chapters in total, the fourth of which is half-written and almost finished. I'm not sure when I'll put up the second chapter, but when I do I will put an update on my Live Journal (which can be found on my bio page).

Please let me know what you think and what needs improving, what you like and didn't like in a review. Thank you.